Peeled chestnuts can be stored in the freezer, then used in stuffing, soups, dips and even salads. Here’s Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s chestnut stuffing recipe
This ‘sweet chestnut’ tree was originally planted by our Italian neighbours. When it failed to produce useful crops of nuts, they brought in a friend-of-a-friend who cut the tree back and grafted a better quality chestnut onto the stumps. Since then, excellent crops occur every year without our having to prune the tree or water it throughout summer. (It’s roots go very deep, we imagine, and our heavy red water-holding clay soils support all sorts of fruit trees through long dry summers).
Our Italian neighbours are long gone, and the tree stands on our fence line in the yard of one-of-two rented houses built where their magnificent productive garden used to be. Only this tree and a huge avocado remain. The prickly nuts fall on our concrete driveway, but are too spiky to pick up by hand. So we just roll them underfoot with our boot, releasing the shiny brown nuts. These are slit with a sharp knife at the top to aid peeling, then simmered gently to soften the husk, which is removed and composted.